Small Ways to Save Big on Divorce Lawyer Costs
Divorce can be stressful enough without the additional burden of being expensive. But your divorce doesn't have to break the bank‚ especially if you can settle out of court. If you have decided that you do need some help from a lawyer, here are a few small things you can do to keep divorce costs down and relieve some stress in the process.
1. Limit emails.
Anyone with a full inbox knows how hard email can be to keep up with. When sending emails to your lawyer, send sparingly and thoughtfully. Consider consolidating all of your thoughts and questions into one message instead of multiple shorter emails. This is not to discourage you from sending emails altogether. Rather, it's to encourage you to include as much information in one email as you possibly can.
If you have a lot of divorce-related thoughts throughout the day, it may be helpful to list ideas as they come to you. Utilize the notes app on your phone or jot down things in a dedicated notebook as they come up. Then, once you have a day or two of actionable items, send them in a concise email to your lawyer.
2. Limit calls.
Much like emails, phone or video calls can take up a lot of time and energy – and rack up fees. Calls are useful, especially when trying to clearly explain something or better understand something complex. But even with the simplest of calls, you're on the clock. It is best to prepare a list of questions or thoughts you would like to share ahead of time. This helps keep conversations on track and as short as possible.
3. Take advantage of practice management systems or applications.
Many family law offices use apps or cloud-based web platforms to streamline, organize, and create tasks for your case. Applications such as My Case or Clio give divorce clients the opportunity to review their forms and invoices, upload important documentation, schedule meetings with their lawyer, send messages, comment on a document, and review correspondence sent to and from the opposing lawyer or party. The more you use these resources, the less likely you will need periodic "check-in" calls. You will also feel a whole lot more in control of your case.
4. Trust your lawyer.
Of course, the first step is hiring a lawyer who gets what you want and knows the law in your area. Your lawyer is experienced and well-versed in all things related to divorce. After all, this is their specialty, and it's why you hired them in the first place. The more you question them and discuss what to do, the more fees you will incur.
After something has been drafted and given to you for review, try to avoid making copious suggestions, adjustments, or modifications unless you strongly believe the change is absolutely necessary. While a change might be small to you, it may take a lot of time to add your change and make sure that it flows and matches the overall tone.
5. TMI (too much information) can be good.
When your lawyer asks you to fill out an intake packet that asks how much you contributed to community property/assets or about the amount of time you spend with your children, the more specific and accurate you can be, the better. It will save your lawyer time, and it will save you money.
Keep in mind that just because you report all the details, doesn't mean you'll have to split it all 50/50 or that you're giving your ex something to use against you. As mundane as it may seem, all of this information is important, down to the penny or the minute. When filling out an intake packet or financial intake packet, be as thorough as you can. Even if you feel your answers are repetitive, insignificant, or mundane, know that they are not. In fact, they are extremely helpful.
If your lawyer has to constantly ask you to clarify or be more specific about something on your intake form, this will add up in the end. Your lawyer can do a lot more with "too much" information than they can with "not enough." In this case, more is more.